Thursday October 4 2012
Have Milan turned the corner?

Milan got their season back on track with an impressive victory at Zenit on Wednesday. Alex Mott writes on the possible rejuvenation of the Rossoneri.

The last time it happened, the United States bailed out nine banks to the tune of $125bn, the Philadelphia Phillies won their second World Series title and Girls Aloud were top of the UK singles' chart. It was October 30, 2008, and Zenit St Petersburg had just lost 2-1 to Real Madrid at home in the Champions League.

Since then, the Russian Premier League side have gone unbeaten at the Petrovsky Stadium in Europe, with trips to Zenit becoming one of the most feared on the continent. Added to that the recent signings of Hulk from Porto, and Axel Witsel from near-neighbours Benfica, and Luciano Spalletti's team can make the legitimate argument of being both the most mercurial and the most defensively resolute squads around.

The fact then that Milan came out 3-2 winners on Wednesday, is even more reason to celebrate. Massimiliano Allegri's team got their first Champions League win of the campaign, and with goalkeeper Christian Abbiati in such inspired form, optimism around the club has reached heights not seen since Zlatan Ibrahimovic was pulling on a black and red jersey.

“Abbiati made some amazing saves – he literally plucked some shots out of the net,” Spalletti stated. The 35-year-old shot-stopper can look back on this game as one of the greatest of his career. His athleticism, command of the area and cat-like ability meant the Zenitchiki had to be content with just two goals – two goals after registering 30 shots.

Yes, the veteran No 1 made some world class. And yes, there was an element of fortune about the win, but luck hasn't exactly been a key feature of the Rossoneri's season so far. Red cards here, contentious penalty decisions there, have seen losses to Sampdoria, Atalanta and Udinese giving the Milanese giants their worst start in 80 years. But, with these three points, they may finally be shaking off the shackles, and start producing performances worthy of 'the most successful team in the world'.

Thirteen minutes in, and a deflected Urby Emanuelson free-kick set the tone for the evening, with the Dutchman scoring his first goal of the season in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Thirteen may be unlucky for some, but that early strike could give the former Ajax man a whole new level of confidence – a trait he's been lacking since his move from the Amsterdam club in 2011.

Stephan El Shaarawy doubled the lead three minutes later, with another superb solo goal, and with the 19-year-old in this sort of form, the Diavolo may have unearthed a forward to fill the boots of the recently-departed Swede. His touch, vision and composure in front of goal have been attracting some of the best clubs in Europe recently, but even if now Milan can't afford to keep hold of their best players, they won't mind one jot if he keeps this up for the rest of the season.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the victory though, was the third goal. No, not the way Riccardo Montolivo whipped a low ball in from the right, not the way Giampaolo Pazzini got in front of his man, not even the fate with which Tomas Hubocan inadvertently put into his own net. It was for the way it had come after the Rossoneri had conceded two stupid goals either side of half-time and clawed their way back.

In previous weeks, that had not seemed possible. A team bereft of confidence and loaded with frustration, Kevin-Prince Boateng failing to live up to the hype of last year, Nigel De Jong proving to be the 'marquee signing' and Mario Yepes still playing like Mario Yepes had left fans of the club feeling like a recently deflated party balloon.

Now, with this come-from-behind victory, the tifosi, and perhaps more importantly, the players, can look forward to the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday, and have a genuine shout of winning the game.

Three points there, and who knows where Milan can go this season?

Have your say...
Don't get too overexcited. Milan haven't done anything yet. A team with some class like Milan has is bound to win some games. They are not going to get relegated or anything but are still far from world beaters. They have some youth but it is still a transitional time for the club.

I expect some big things out of this group, but not yet, not this season anyways. It's going to take time to re-build no doubt, but things are looking up and perhaps Allegri isn't as idiotic as you fans thought
on the 5th October, 2012 at 2:37pm
Yo! Can some1 please tell allegri to train his men to deffend vs setpices? it's getting embaressing.....
Every game they let a goal in because they are chickens in the box.
on the 5th October, 2012 at 9:12am
Prince is done so Allegri should start looking for real playmakers ...... at last LUCA someone who talks sense I said all along Prince was overated....all he does is run about and look busy. No 10??? are you sure Milan?
on the 5th October, 2012 at 7:50am
plus if you keeper is man of the match jesus how bad are the tame in front of him....
on the 5th October, 2012 at 7:48am
BeIN Sport has the Serie A TV right in USA. It's available.

You can get it with 'Direct TV' and 'Dish Network' in HD
on the 4th October, 2012 at 9:35pm
steps in the right direction...

the class against inter could not be of greater importance. a win there and who knows what could happen. our morale will sky rocket.

forza milan.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 9:21pm
We are still far away from being good..Forza Milan
on the 4th October, 2012 at 9:19pm
The biggest positive was the display of mental strength butMilan still have major issues.Prince is done so Allegri should start looking for real playmakers in Primavera(like Carmona).Emanuelson is useless upfront and should be one of the midfield 3 or a LB.Abbiati,Abate,Zapata,Acerbi,De Sciglio,Montolivo,Ambrosini,Emanuelson,Carmona,Shaarawy,Pazzo would be great with Bojan,Nocerino,De Jong also in the mix.Bye bye to overpaid Binho,Prince,Mexes in Jan to raise funds.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 8:38pm
We have to wait after the Milan derby to see if we have turned the corner. We haven't yet won two games in arow. Once that is done we can start getting optimistic again.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 8:27pm
A win is a win. Milan are improving game by game, not so fast but they do get better. Be patient we still need time to gel. We might have hard games again after this but that would be good for the team. We have young players now, time is on our side, they will grow up and mature only to be world class in the future.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 6:25pm
@ Adam

FYI, Goalie's in general are not payed as much as lets say, strikers and midfielders. Geez.

and instead of complaining why dont you bring up the fact that Abiati was the man of the match against Zenit. Love it... Keep the hate up, makes us stronger.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 5:48pm
@ Adam

Milan got lucky? Seem to me you didnt watch the game.. they could have scored 2-3 other given goals. Sure you can bring up those players, however i rather talk about el Shaar, Noccerino, Boateng, De Jong, De Sciglio, Pato.. etc.

Haters be haters. Milan will end up third after Juve and Napoli
on the 4th October, 2012 at 5:39pm
@ acduck

Fox Soccer channel plus u can.. Or stream it
on the 4th October, 2012 at 5:36pm
El Shaaraway's run and shot was a thing of beauty. I hope he continues to grow and Milan hold onto him. Wish I could watch Serie A in the USA. Not shown on Fox or ESPN anymore.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 4:54pm
No they havent, Zenit are having internal problems and are not a team. Milan got lucky, also Abiati said he must be doing something rite to have stayed at Milan for so long.....Yes Abiati the fact you are paid next to nothing thats why your there. much like other average players...Antonini, Yepes , Mesbah , Flamini , the list gos on.....Milan will be 6th this season.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 3:49pm
well done milan..keep it up !!
on the 4th October, 2012 at 3:21pm
One thing that is promising is that they seem to be playing better together. I won't get excited yet, but it is a good sign.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 2:57pm
When Pato comes back, and Milan find a new CB, I'll celebrate, until then there is work to be done.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 2:34pm
Kevin prince whatever his name is, wouldnt get picked for Barnet!!! he is awful
on the 4th October, 2012 at 2:27pm
@forza milan

"remember that this zent team is doing even worse than us. denisov and kerzhakov refused to play because of the arrivals of witsel and hulk

Erhm, no they have won 5 games and lost 2.. a lot better record then ours. So no, they are doing better then us, a lot better.

I'm pretty sure i'd fielded Hulk and Witsel before the two plays you just mentioned above, wouldn't you??
on the 4th October, 2012 at 2:11pm
@Maldini's Heir

We conceded 30 shots and 2 stupid goals when we were 2 goals up. That is not - Top 4 Serie A/Quarter Final's Champions League/"

What about going up away in CL against a team who has won their last 15 games at home?

ACM are going in the right direction, one game at a time. At least our average age has decreased with 5-7 years. Im happy to see De Jong, Monty, Shaarawy, de scgilio and many other adopting and getting more and more use to play with each other. Against Inter 1-1
on the 4th October, 2012 at 2:07pm
..yeah right!
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:39pm
remember that this zent team is doing even worse than us. denisov and kerzhakov refused to play because of the arrivals of witsel and hulk
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:29pm
We waited until Abbiati turned 30. What a farce. Still Kalac was a great signing. So was Eleftheropoulos (Do you remember him). What a good use of our money. At least now we have Yepes rather than wasting all those years to see if Astori turned out to be good (oh wait another mistake). Damn it's like all these players that were good enough to make our youth team turned out to be...good? Galliani should be sacked.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:06pm
Now on Abbiati he just about typifies Milan's farcical approach to youth players. He has been in and out of the team since winning Serie A in 1999 and being loaned to our biggest rivals in 2005 only to "become good enough again" in 2008. Meanwhile, Dida had one good season in 2003 and then starting holding the club to ransom over his salary while being embarrassed by Celtic and injuring himself on the bench. In 1999 we could have solved our goalkeeper problem for the next 10 years. Intead....
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:04pm
Too early to call, glad to see at least one Italian side still knows how to win in the Champions League!!
Though i wouldn't get to excited a loss to Inter and they are where before! Not getting excited until they beat Inter...
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:02pm
We conceded 30 shots and 2 stupid goals when we were 2 goals up. That is not - Top 4 Serie A/Quarter Final's Champions League/Might be nice to have a go at the Italian Cup - form that Milan should be setting their sights on. We need to consolidate and we need consistancy and we need to beat Inter this weekend and stick to Cassano aka Roland the Rat.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:01pm
I think we are starting to see Milan improve. It's been said from all corners since the departure of Ibra and Silva that this team doesn't have an identity, but El Shaarawy's current form in particular leaves me with the feeling that maybe things are beginning to slot into place for this Rossoneri team. I hope it won't be too long before other members of the squad find their groove in the current side and consequently catch attention for performing well.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:01pm
Until Allgeri goes, this team will not be as successful as they're capable of. When he keeps playing Bonera and Ambrosini who are worthy of MLS soccer at "best" even in their prime let alone now. Get rid of Max and they might make a decent season out of this. IMO.
on the 4th October, 2012 at 1:01pm
I don't think we should get too carried away. It was good, hopefully confidence boosting performance but there are still some concerning signs. One is the defence. Apart from Abbiati (more on this later) I am getting really worried that Allegri cannot make up his mind re the centre back pairing. Are Bonera and Zapata his best pairing? Fine can they just play every game together now for another 10 games and they can rest if we qualify early out of the group?
on the 4th October, 2012 at 12:59pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.